Why it’s time to implement a menopause policy in your workplace

Written by Jennifer Ormond
11 May, 2023

Women of menopausal age are the fastest-growing group in the workforce – figures currently estimate 13 million are currently peri or menopausal.

They are often experienced and skilled role models.  Statistics show that they reduce their hours, cut back responsibilities or leave work due to menopausal symptoms.  The loss of talented senior women leaves businesses with a lack of diversity at senior level as well as a lack of contribution from employees who have often had years of investment from the business.

As a result of increased public awareness and campaigning, a Parliamentary Inquiry was launched and the findings, published in July 2022 concluded that:

a) women of menopausal exiting from the workplace impacts business productivity; lessens diversity and contribute to gender pay-gap issues; and
b) Menopause would not be defined as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010 but is covered by the protected characteristics of age, sex and disability.

Why should businesses act now?

In 2011, Lord Davis recommended in his report “Women on Boards” that larger FTSE companies aim for 25% female board member representation by 2015.  This expectation now extends to other business and although it is not a legal obligation, it carries a lot of social weight and attraction for potential new talent and investors.

Opening conversations and raising awareness of menopause in the workplace helps to retain older women and minimises disruption on three main levels.

Firstly, it provides support for menopausal women by creating a safe place to discuss their symptoms and the impact on their work.  It enables them to ask for support, temporary adjustments or other measures without fear of judgment or retribution.

Secondly, it educates other colleagues of the difficulties older women may face.  Although it’s not necessary to inform everyone of a person’s menopause, issuing a policy creates general awareness and understanding of issues such as:

  • desk moves due to temperature;
  • additional breaks;
  • adjusted hours;
  • shorter fuse;
  • forgetfulness (and so on).

Our experience is that educating everyone of the symptoms relieves workplaces of grumbles and grievances relating to menopausal colleagues’ behaviours.

Finally, and most crucially, it informs managers of the symptoms and issues.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that younger male managers (who have no experience of the menopause) struggle to comprehend the extent of the side effects of the menopause and the detrimental impact it can have professionally.  Educating managers is key to accommodating older women in the workplace.

Legal Risks of failing to recognise the menopause

Aside from workforce disruption, the largest risk to businesses is failing to recognise the menopause and their assumed knowledge of it.  Employers have a duty to consider reasonable adjustments with the employee and implement those where appropriate.  All too often, employers are not aware that the duty has fallen on them already, sometimes even by virtue of comments such as “oh I’m getting hot, it’s my age” or similar.

Create a menopause policy for your business today

If you would like to create a menopause policy you can download our free template, once completed you can issue to your team. If you would like to have our team look at a bespoke policy for you and discuss other ways you can improve the lives of women who are currently peri or menopausal.

Don’t forget that we also offer Menopause Training because in addition to issuing the Menopause Policy; as much as women are the sufferers, it is very important their male colleagues know more about the symptoms so they can better support and respect those with physical and psychological symptoms.

Give the team a call on 01270 781006 or email enquiries@elslegal.co.uk to discuss your ad-hc or retained HR support.

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